Judge under fire for comments to alleged rape victim

New Jersey — An ethics committee has recommended a three-month, unpaid suspension for a New Jersey judge who told a woman she could “close your legs” to prevent a sexual assault. The committee released its recommendation Wednesday in the case of Superior Court Judge John Russo. The woman appeared before Russo in 2016 seeking a restraining order against a man she said sexually assaulted her. Russo responded with the comment about closing her legs.

ABC News provided a transcript of how the dialogue in court unfolded: “Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?” Russo asked. “How would you do that?” She responded, saying “I’d probably physically harm them … tell them no … to stop,” or “try to run away.” Russo continued to press her, asking “Run away, get away. Anything else?” “I — that’s all I know,” she said. “Block your body parts? Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?” the judge asked. In court filings and at a hearing, Russo has disputed that he violated judicial rules, saying he was seeking more information and wasn’t trying to humiliate the woman.

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